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Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

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Minnesota
posts: 53
reviews: 6
Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

We are planning a one day trip to Vancouver Island on July 4th. We are staying in West Vancouver about 15 minutes from Horseshoe Bay. We have a family of 11 meeting at 11:30 for lunch and a tour of Buchart Gardens 1 - 3. Each family will have their own car and can arrive to the island early and/or stay late. I was thinking of taking the Tsawwassen Ferry 7:00 am in the morning to Victoria. Do some sightseeing and meet up at the Gardens. I would then drive north to Nanaimo, touring wineries, seeing small towns, scenic views along the way. We would than leave on the 9:30 pm ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay. I am wondering however, if we don't start the drive until after 3, how much is going to be open for tours? There is a 7:30 pm from DB to HB that we would take as well, but I wasn't sure if that would cause us to rush too much. We could do the reverse but I am not sure how many wineries & stops we can get in driving from Nanaimo to Victoria and be at the gardens by 11:30 am. Any advice would be appreciated!

Victoria BC
posts: 163
reviews: 1
1. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

IMO, your timeline is far too tight. The 7am ferry to Twsawwassen would get you into downtown Victoria about 9:15am. To get from there to Butchart Gardens at 11:00, you would have to leave again no later than 10:15am. That's barely time enough to drive down the main street, and hope to find a parking spot for a coffee/bathroom break. You would see nothing of Victoria. And that's assuming no delays due to uncertainty about the geographical area; no wrong turns. The drive north to Naniamo is about 2 hours, although starting at 3 might put you into rush hour traffic, which could increase that time somewhat. The drive from Victoria to Naniamo does have some nice viewpoints, but overall is not that spectacular, to be honest.

If the Butchart Gardens are your main focus, I'd suggest this: Take the earliest ferry you can from Tsawwassen, 7am would be good, although that would mean a start from W Van about 5:15-5:30am. Take in the Gardens, check out the winneries on the Saanich Peninsula, and drive to downtown Victoria. Take a short walking tour around the town, see the sights, and then head out again to the ferry at Tsawwassen, stopping in Sidney on the way if you have time. Make a reservation for the last ferry to Vancouver. That is all you will have time for, at least if you don't want to feel hurried.

My experience has been that those that plan a trip here in terms of hours rather than days, usually say they wished they had more time.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 7,935
reviews: 52
2. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

You are trying to cram in way too much. Just spend your trip in and around Victoria.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 14,546
reviews: 42
3. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

To safely make the 7 am ferry from Tsawwassen means you probably need to be away from your lodgings in West Van by about 5 am, so up shortly after 4:00 am. The 7 am sailing should get you into Victoria, as mentioned above, shortly after 9 am. Lets assume you spend your ferry journey eating, rather than enjoying the view (which would be a terrible shame) and so, 5 hours after getting up, you are in Victoria and raring to go. As noted, you'll have to navigate an unfamiliar city and find a place to park the car, and then you need to be back out at Butchart by 11:30. So, one hour in Victoria, give or take. Assuming you'll eat lunch at the Gardens, so no need to eat during that one hour, but I'm struggling to suggest what you might do in Victoria that you can get the best of in one hour. Probably just walk along the Inner Harbour and through the lobby of the Empress, and maybe onto the grounds of the Legislature.

Now, the other end of your journey. A 7:30 from DB means being in Nanaimo by 6:30, its a...3 hour drive up the Malahat (could be wrong about that one) so you'll have about 30 minutes to stop and see something. I guess you could dash into a single winery and buy something in 30 minutes.

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
posts: 6,758
reviews: 70
4. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

Instead why not take the 6:20 ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo? Will put you in Nanaimo at 8 am. This gives you 3 .5 hours to drive down to Butcharts. Which leaves about 1.5 hours for stops. Take the Mill Bay ferry to Brentwood as it puts you close to Butcharts and is scenic. After your family event carry on in to Victoria for some touring. Take ferry back from Swartz Bay to Tswwassen.

Nanaimo, Canada
Destination Expert
for Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
posts: 4,366
reviews: 280
5. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

t47's suggestion is the one I would make as well. Save you traffic congestion in each direction.

Lake Elmo, Minnesota
posts: 3
6. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

We are planning the same Trip but instead of the winery's we want to stop at Pacific Northwest Raptors. Is it worth it?

Parksville, Canada
posts: 1,089
reviews: 17
7. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

Ditto Traveller 47.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 32,671
reviews: 52
8. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

The Mill Bay ferry including the wait (it's essentially a shuttle back and forth) takes the same time as driving around the bottom past Goldstream Park into the outskirts of Victoria and then up the Saanich peninsula, but soooooo much prettier.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 32,671
reviews: 52
9. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

a 25 min shuttle

Nanaimo, Canada
Destination Expert
for Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
posts: 4,366
reviews: 280
10. Re: Victoria/Nanaimo Drive

NO_Plans_13, we've been a couple of times and felt it was worth going to.

If you plan to continue a discussion of your travel plans, please start your own post as it will become difficult to continue two conversations in the same post. Thanks.

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